Law firm diversity programs: how to track the diversity of your outside counsel

Lauren Lee | October 9, 2018 | Articles

Corporate legal departments are placing significant weight on their law firms’ commitment to provide a diverse staff to perform legal services across all practice areas. In fact, more than a third of CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) members said their legal departments hire outside counsel or law departments based on diversity, according to a survey of more than 200 consortium members earlier this year.

Collecting and Analyzing Diversity Data

One of the main benefits of having a diverse group of individuals working on your matters is higher-quality work. It opens the door to a more diverse set of ideas and experiences, and thus better analysis, solutions, and processes. But how can a legal department measure the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion among the legal teams they engage?

The solution lies in legal technology. Legal operations management platforms with e-Billing capabilities collect data to provide visibility into project budgets, open litigation matters, and staff productivity. While legal e-Billing systems were created to better understand spend, modern solutions like SimpleLegal can simultaneously support a diversity program by tracking gender, race/ethnicity, and veteran status.

Holding Law Firms Accountable

Legal departments are evaluating and reworking outdated law firm billing guidelines to include diversity criteria, making their expectations for how law firms staff their matters known from a project’s onset. Earlier this year, Kim Rivera, General Counsel at Hewlett Packard, announced the company may withhold up to 10 percent of invoiced legal fees if outside law firms don’t meet their diversity standards.

The SimpleLegal Legal Operations Management Platform

SimpleLegal customers can require their law firms to submit negotiated timekeeper rates before invoices can be approved. During this process, law firms can be required to input diversity criteria including:

  • Gender
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Veteran status

SimpleLegal is helping legal departments make the analysis of diversity data just as important as any analysis from spend data. To learn more about the capabilities of SimpleLegal, schedule a demo with one of our legal operations experts.